ANKARA – Turkey and Egypt will soon announce the reappointment of ambassadors, their foreign ministers said in Ankara Thursday, as the two regional powers put years of tensions behind them and pledged to cooperate more closely on Libya.
Speaking to reporters in the Turkish capital, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his Turkish counterpart also said both sides were working toward a possible meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt.
Egypt and Turkey withdrew ambassadors as tension between them flared following the Egyptian military’s 2013 ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi amid mass protest against his divisive one year of rule. Morsi hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood group, which Turkey supported. Egypt has designated the group a terrorist organisation.
Turkey recently abandoned its critical approach toward the Egyptian leader and Erdogan and al-Sisi were photographed shaking hands in November during the soccer World Cup in Qatar.
“You (journalists) often ask me ‘when will you appoint ambassadors again?’” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said. “We have discussed this issue today and we are taking concrete steps to raise the level of representation to the level of ambassador.”
Cavusoglu added that Turkey and Egypt would announce the reappointment of ambassadors in a joint statement “in the upcoming period.”
The rapprochement between the two countries is part of Turkey’s efforts to build bridges with regional countries and end its international isolation amid an economic downturn. Turkey has recently also repaired its ties with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Cavusoglu last month became the highest-ranking Turkish official to visit Egypt in over a decade. In February, Shoukry toured quake-hit areas in Turkey and Syria to show solidarity with the two nations.
Ankara and Cairo will cooperate more closely regarding Libya, where they back opposing sides, Cavusoglu also said on Thursday, marking another step in the rapprochement between the two regional powers.
“We will cooperate more closely regarding Libya from now on. In our meeting today, we (saw) that our views are not essentially very different but that we think differently on some methods,” Cavusoglu said during a news conference in Ankara.
The two countries will work on a roadmap to hold elections in Libya and could cooperate on training and reinforcing a joint military between forces in the east and west of Libya, said the Turkish foreign minister.
“We share a common desire with Turkey to hold elections in Libya,” Shoukry said.
Libya has had little peace since the 2011 NATO-backed ouster of Muammar Gadhafi and it split in 2014 between rival eastern and western factions, with the last major battle of the conflict ending in 2020 with a ceasefire.
The political process to resolve the conflict, however, has been stalled since the collapse of a scheduled election in December 2021 over disputes about the rules, including the eligibility of major candidates.
The last major international attempt to break the deadlock, via a 2020 political forum, led to formation of the current interim government and the roadmap for the December 2021 election that was thwarted by internal political disputes.